Eating foods that are high in fiber, like certain fruits and vegetables, may help relieve constipation. These foods may soften, accelerate, and increase your stool frequency.
Constipation can be painful and uncomfortable and may happen to anyone.
- passing stools less than three times per week
- straining, lumpy, or hard stools
- feeling blocked
- being unable to pass a stool
Increasing your dietary fiber intake may be a natural and effective remedy to help relieve your symptoms of constipation.
How fiber helps relieve constipation
Fiber may help soften, accelerate, and increase your stool frequency because it passes through your intestines undigested.
There are two types of fiber:
- Insoluble fiber passes through your digestive tract intact. This may help increase the bulk and frequency of your stool.
- Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency. This may help soften your stool and reduce your blood cholesterol and sugar levels.
Having a healthy mix of both types may help reduce symptoms of bloating, gas, and constipation.
Here are 17 foods that could help relieve constipation.
Dried plums, known as prunes, are widely used as a natural remedy for constipation.
One 1/4-cup (40-gram) serving contains nearly
The insoluble fiber in prunes, known as cellulose, may increase the amount of water in the stool, which can add bulk.
Prunes can be enjoyed on their own or added to foods like salads, smoothies, and baked goods.
Apples contain pectin, which may have
- increasing stool frequency
- decreasing stool hardness and duration
- decreasing the need for laxatives
Apples are an easy way to boost the fiber content of your diet and alleviate constipation. You can eat them whole on their own or slice them up to add to salads or baked goods.
One medium-sized pear (178 grams) contains
This means that unabsorbed fructose may bring water into your intestines and
That said, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.
You can add pears to your diet in a variety of ways. They’re great raw or cooked in salads, savory dishes, and baked goods.
Kiwis are a great source of fiber that can be eaten on their own or make a great addition to fruit salads and smoothies.
One kiwi (75 grams) contains about
Kiwis have metabolic, immune, and digestive benefits.
They may help
- improving stool consistency
- decreasing stool duration
- decreasing abdominal pain, strain, and discomfort
This may also be due to the enzyme actinidin, which might have positive effects on gut motility and bowel habits.
One 1/2-cup (50 grams) serving of dried figs contains
Figs are a delicious snack on their own. They also pair well with sweet and savory dishes, like cheese, meat, and baked goods.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins are refreshing snacks and good sources of fiber.
Citrus fruit peels are rich in pectin, which may help accelerate colonic transit time and reduce constipation.
Citrus fruits also contain a flavanol called naringenin. Studies with mice suggest that this may have
To get the maximum amount of fiber and vitamin C, eat citrus fruits fresh.
These greens might help add bulk and weight to stools, which makes them easier to pass through the gut.
One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach contains
Spinach can be added to a quiche, pie, or soup. Baby spinach or tender greens could also be added raw to salads or sandwiches, too.
Brussels sprouts are also super healthy, with just 5 sprouts containing
They can be boiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted and enjoyed hot or cold.
Meanwhile, broccoli contains
It can be cooked and added to soups and stews, as well as eaten raw in salads or as a snack.
Inulin is a prebiotic, which means it helps stimulate the growth of bacteria in the gut, promoting digestive health.
Additionally, prebiotics have
Despite their name, Jerusalem artichokes are not a type of artichoke. They have a nutty flavor and are found in most supermarkets. They’re great roasted, steamed, or mashed.
Chicory root is not commonly found in supermarkets but has become a popular coffee alternative in its ground form.
Artichokes may have a prebiotic effect, which may:
- promote good gut health and regularity
increase stool frequency
- improve stool consistency
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut, known as probiotics. Prebiotics help increase the number of probiotics and protect against the growth of harmful bacteria.
One medium raw artichoke (128 grams) also contains
Rhubarb is a leafy plant that’s well known for its bowel-stimulating properties.
One cup (122 grams) of rhubarb contains
The plant contains a compound known as sennoside A, which may have a laxative effect. This compound works by
A lower level of AQP3 means less water is moved from the colon back into the bloodstream, leaving stools softer and promoting bowel movements.
Rhubarb is great in tarts, pies, and crumbles. Or, it can be added to oats for a fiber-rich breakfast.
Sweet potatoes are a versatile source of fiber. They can be roasted, steamed, or mashed and you can substitute them in recipes that call for other types of potatoes.
One medium sweet potato (150 grams) contains
This root vegetable mostly contains insoluble fiber in the form of cellulose and lignin. But, they also contain pectin, a soluble fiber.
After just 4 days of eating 7 ounces (200 grams) of sweet potato per day, participants reported having experienced improved symptoms of constipation and less straining and discomfort compared with the control group.
Pulses contain a mix of both insoluble and soluble fiber, so they may help
You can add pulses and legumes to many different recipes, such as in soups, dips, or salads.
They’re mostly comprised of insoluble fiber, which forms into a gel when it comes into contact with water in the gut. This may help soften stools and make them easier to pass.
Chia could absorb up to
Chia seeds can be eaten in many different ways, such as sprinkled onto cereal and yogurt or mixed into smoothies and salad dressings.
Flaxseeds have many benefits.
One tablespoon (9 grams) of whole flaxseeds contains
Researchers found that after 12 weeks, the cohort that ate the flaxseed cookies had overall reduced symptoms of constipation, as well as improved blood sugar and fat levels.
Flaxseed is easy to add to cereal and yogurt, or you can use it in muffins, breads, and cakes.
Rye bread is a traditional bread in many parts of Europe and is rich in dietary fiber.
Two medium slices (64 grams) of whole-grain rye bread contain
A 2010 study in 51 adults with constipation investigated the effects of eating 8.5 ounces (240 grams) of rye bread per day.
Those who ate rye bread showed a 23% decrease in intestinal transit times, on average, compared with those who ate wheat bread. They also experienced softened stools, as well as increased frequency and ease of bowel movements.
Researchers also suggest that rye bread may be more effective at relieving constipation than regular wheat bread.
Although more research is needed, two older studies have shown the positive effects of oat bran on bowel function.
Oat bran can easily be combined with granola mixes and baked into bread or muffins.
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that originated in the Caucasus mountains in West Asia.
It’s a probiotic, which means it contains bacteria and yeasts that benefit your health when ingested.
Kefir can be enjoyed on its own, or added to smoothies and salad dressings.
If you’re experiencing constipation, certain foods and beverages may make your symptoms worse.
These may include:
What should you eat when you are constipated?
Foods that are high in fiber may help soften, accelerate, and increase your stool frequency.
There are two types of fiber, which may both have different effects on your bowel movements.
Insoluble fiber may help increase the bulk and frequency of your stool, while soluble fiber may help soften your stool.
What foods help constipation the fastest?
Foods that are high in fiber may help quickly relieve constipation, such as:
- sweet potatoes
- chia seeds
Foods that are high in fiber may help relieve constipation.
A high-fiber diet helps add bulk and weight to stools, soften them, and stimulate bowel movements.
However, high-fiber diets could make constipation worse for some people.
If you’re experiencing recurring bouts of constipation, it’s important to speak with a doctor to come up with a proper treatment plan for you.
Additionally, drinking plenty of water will help keep your bowel movements frequent and your stool soft.